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Netflix 'Motel Makeover' pulls back the curtain on Ontario's trendy June Motel during the pandemic

·5-min read

With a few weeks left in the summer, famed founders of The June Motel in Prince Edward County, Ont., the most coveted, chic and Instagram-worthy place to stay in the destination, bring you Netflix’s Motel Makeover (debuting on Aug. 25) to share the journey to open their second property in Sauble Beach, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We fell in love with Sauble the very first time we ever came here,” co-founder April Brown told Yahoo Canada.

“We lived in flip flops all day long, all night long, the sunsets on the beach are some of the best sunsets we've seen in the world and there's just a really laid back, like retro beach town vibe to this place that really won us over.”

Sarah Sklash on
Sarah Sklash on "Motel Makeover" (Darren Goldstein/NETFLIX)

How to ‘Junify’ your space

The June Motel in Prince Edward County has been celebrated for its incredible look and vibe, which is all the brainchild of Brown and fellow co-founder Sarah Sklash, with cool wallpaper, pops of pink and, of course, a cold glass of rosé.

The Sauble property has a slightly different look with an awesome retro aesthetic but Motel Makeover helps you understand how to “Junify” a space, a term coined by Brown and Sklash referring to getting that June Motel vibe so many people are lusting after.

“Junifying a space means taking a basic space, maybe even an older space, and finding this high-low mix of ways to just make it pop and make it fun, make a retro, and definitely we lean a little into the feminine style as well,” Sklash explained to Yahoo Canada. “It means using paint because it makes such an impact...because again, it just has so much visual impact but is really affordable.”

“Adding wallpaper, we're very into faux plants, just bringing all these layers, and definitely some vintage pieces as well, to achieve this cool, eclectic, retro, feminine look.”

Brown added that it’s important not to forget a pop of neon to complete the true "Junification."

April Brown and Sarah Sklash on
April Brown and Sarah Sklash on "Motel Makeover" (Geoff George/NETFLIX)

‘There was no turning back’ when COVID-19 hit

A large component of the series that will have you on the edge of your seat is watching Brown and Sklash navigate the opening of this property during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the story beginning in January 2020.

This project was much larger than the Prince Edward County location, with 24 rooms, a pool and a restaurant (completely new for Brown and Sklash), after purchasing the property for $1.4 million, personally guaranteed with their homes.

“It was already going to be a much more challenging project for us but then you layer on a TV show and cameras following you around, and then later on a global pandemic, which hit when the rooms were completely gutted, there was no turning back at that point,” Brown explained.

“The delays of furniture, the shortage of lumber,...we started to see that kind of unfold in the last month before we opened and that's when the stress really hit. We were a few days away from opening and our pool deck wasn't completed, and we were brainstorming all sorts of ways that we were going to still be able to open with a half built pool deck.”

"Motel Makeover" (NETFLIX)
"Motel Makeover" (NETFLIX)

For anyone still looking to get in some travel, particularly before the fall months with the fear of the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the last bit of warm weather in Ontario, the June Motel founders also identify that motel stays can be a great option for more pandemic-friendly travel.

“We're a really easy, closer destination for people who are travelling,” Sklash said.

“We're realizing motels are actually perfect during a pandemic because it's easy to social distance, you don’t have to go through the lobby, you don't have to take elevators. You can just park, walk right up to your door, we have lots of outdoor space, all about eating on the patio to begin with, so we're actually lucky.”

April Brown and Sarah Sklash on
April Brown and Sarah Sklash on "Motel Makeover" (Geoff George/NETFLIX)

What gives a destination June Motel potential?

It’s no surprise that both June Motel properties in Ontario have actually been sold out all summer to date and this definitely won’t be the last project for the creative dynamic duo.

“Our goal is to eventually be international but there's so many places, still in Ontario, and still across Canada, that we would be really excited to open spots,” Sklash teased.

“What we really loved in Sauble was we had met a few other female entrepreneurs, one who owns The Wellness Refinery, another who owns a cool, trendy taco bus, and I think seeing, one, that there's some young, fresh energy and a place that is kind of about to change and grow is really promising to us,” Brown added. “We are considering that whole guest experience, it's not enough just to come to The June, we want to be able to send them to the beach for sunset, the taco bus, The Wellness Refinery,...to be able to curate an ideal two or three day experience.”

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